RED-EARED SLIDER TURTLE
Copyright infringement not intended
Context: The presence of invasive and non-native south red-eared slider turtles would lead to the extinction of native species of their own kind, according to experts.
- India is home to 29 freshwater turtles and tortoise species of the 356 turtle species recognised worldwide and around 80 per cent of them are threatened, according to a 2020 study published in journal Reptile and Amphibians conservation and Natural History.
- The red-eared sliders are native to south-eastern USA and Mexico, but have found their way across the globe including India through trade of exotic animals
- In India, keeping indigenous turtles as pets is prohibited under the wildlife protection act. But the foreign breeds are not restricted and are kept as pets in many families across India.
- It is also not mentioned in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
- The small and easy-to-maintain species is a hit in the pets market. The species breeds faster compared to other local turtle varieties.
- As their size increases, they no longer fit in small tanks or ponds. The owners release them in the wild or nearby waterbodies and once released, they become a threat to the local fauna
- The species has a wide set of diet and eats almost all vegetation, unlike native species.
- The red-eared slider is also aggressive, it drives away the native species. Its paws are also lethal
- The species is already spread across many Indian states and poses a threat to all species of its kind, including soft-shell and hard-shell turtles.
- It is widely found in urban wetlands, such as — Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, temple ponds of Guwahati, lakes of Bengaluru, Sanjay Gandhi national park in Mumbai, Yamuna river in Delhi — among other water bodies
- The species is considered as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive non-native species.
- Also, the populations are observed in every continent except Antarctica and at least 73 countries, noted another study published in Reptile and Amphibians Conservation and Natural History.
- Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta elegans
- The red-eared slider derives its name from red stripes around the part where its ears would be and from its ability to slide quickly off any surface into the water.